Summary: In the lives of many Christians shame can be even more destructive than sin.
2. Barriers to Godly Growth
September 13th, 2009
A new pastor was visiting the homes of some of the people in his congregation. He came to one house and he knocked but there was no answer. He could see the lights were on and it seemed very obvious that someone was home so he knocked again. When there was no response he took out a note card and simply wrote on it Revelation 3:20 and stuck it in the door. The next Sunday after the offering was passed he found someone had put his note card in the plate. He looked at it to see that they had added to it a cryptic message saying simply: Genesis 3:10. The pastor grabbed his bible and opened it to the verse cited and began to laugh. Revelation 3:20 begins: “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” Genesis 3:10 reads: “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid for I was naked.”
If we trace sin all the way back to its origin in the Garden of Eden we see that sin has a companion. There is something that goes along with sin that Adam and Eve both experienced having had their eyes opened to a knowledge of good and evil. Previously Adam and Eve had lived in the Garden and were without sin. They lived in community with God and He would come to walk with them in the garden. Genesis 2:25 tells us that when man was created he was naked and he knew no shame because man was innocent of evil. Then along comes the crafty serpent who tempts Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Lured by the promise of becoming like God Adam and Eve disobey God’s command and sin enters into the world. Their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked. Then they heard God coming. So Adam and Eve hid because they were ashamed. Where sin exists shame is sure to follow. That is the way it is designed. The Bible paints shame as a negative emotion that comes from guilt or an awareness of wrongdoing. When Adam and Eve heard God they knew their sin would be exposed and they were afraid because they were ashamed.
Shame is not a pleasant feeling. The problem with shame is that most Christians don’t know what to do with it because we have failed to understand the purpose of shame in our lives. Have you have ever noticed there are a lot of products on the market today that have printed on their label: use only as directed. When you use something in a manner other than that which it was intended you may find that ultimate result is the opposite of the desired effect.
We are looking at Barriers to Godly growth at the things that often get in the way of our relationship with God. Last week Jordan talked about sin and how sin separates us from God and keeps us from growing closer to Him. The trick with sin is that it is a package deal. Alone with sin comes shame. Shame is one of those things we have all experienced in our lives. We have all made mistakes and sometimes we make mistakes that we are so ashamed of that will live in terror of other people finding out. I have met so many people in my life that have tried to hide their past even from their loved ones because they believe if others found out, if people knew what they did, that no one would ever be able to love them. Their shame keeps them in isolation. Shame has a purpose but this is not it. What is the purpose of shame?
Shame has become a huge barrier in our spiritual development and our relationship with God. You see relationships are supposed to develop, their supposed to go someplace. Shame can be immobilizing. It is one of the common tools used by our enemy to keep us from fulfilling the commission that our Lord gave us. When we allow guilt or shame to reign in our lives as a result of mistakes or wrongs we have done we make ourselves ineffective. For when we hold on to our shame we become stagnant and too afraid to move. Shame keeps us from being a threat to the devil. Shame keeps us from being an asset to the kingdom of God. Shame essentially keeps us from doing anything really worth doing.
How many of us have felt this so often in our lives? You get connected to God, you feel Him moving with you and you get excited. You finally work up the courage to do something in service to the kingdom. Then something happens. Either a skeleton from your past comes up or in your excitement to serve in the kingdom of God you make a mistake. All of sudden you are overwhelmed with doubt and feelings of insecurity and unworthiness. So what do you do? You stop. In realizing you have made mistakes or being criticized for something you have done when life around us gets hard one thing we so often do is stop. Rather than pressing on and moving through it we go back to try and find our footing. We make a mistake and then we become terrified to make another and so we don’t do anything. We don’t risks. We just try to get back to something safe, something that we can control. When you use something in a manner other than that which it was intended you may find that ultimate result is the opposite of the desired effect. Shame has a purpose but this is not it, What is the purpose of shame?